1. Who are you and what’s your book about?
I’m Amy Lord, a debut novelist from the North East of England. My novel, The Disappeared, is speculative fiction, inspired by the likes of Margaret Atwood and George Orwell.
The story is about obsession. Set in a dystopian version of the UK run by a military dictatorship, it tells the story of a young woman determined to fight back against the regime. Clara’s father was arrested by the Authorisation Bureau when she was 11 for the crime of teaching banned books to his students and she never saw him again.
She grows up to become a teacher and wants to rebel, but the only thing she can do is take the books her father left behind and teach them to her students. When one of them disappears, she is plunged into a nightmare, uncertain of who to trust.
2. Why should folk read your book?
The book has had some awards success before finding its way to Unbound, winning a Northern Writers’ Award and being longlisted for the Bath Novel Award. It’s also a thought-provoking read, full of action, which explores how people can break themselves against each other.
3. What’s the appeal of your book?
I wanted to write a story that explored how easily we could find ourselves in a repressive society, where so many of the freedoms we take for granted have been taken away. It’s something that I’ve been working on for a lot of years, but it feels timely at the moment.
The story is also told from two different perspectives: that of Clara and her stepfather, who is a Major in the Authorisation Bureau and the man who arrested her father. His chapters are some of my favourites, as they allowed me to really explore his obsession with Clara’s mother and the lengths he will go to possess her.
4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?
The Disappeared is currently crowdfunding with Unbound and is about three-quarters of the way to the final target. If you’d like to buy a copy, you can pledge to the campaign.
5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:
There isn’t really a typical writing day for me. I have a full-time job, so I usually write quite late in the evening, after work. I like to listen to music while I work and I have an ever-increasing playlist of melancholy songs that helps me find the right emotions and focus. I love writing when everyone else has gone to bed: there’s something quite powerful about immersing myself in the story when the house is still and I’m the only person awake.
6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?
I’m yet to find a book about writing that has really grabbed me, but I recently came to the end of a year’s mentoring programme where Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder was endlessly recommended. It’s aimed at screenwriters, but supposedly fantastic for helping with story structure. I’ve also had Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert on my list for ages. It’s not a writing manual as such, but the focus is more on finding inspiration and creative practice, which is something I enjoy reading about.
7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:
Since the television adaptation became popular, it feels like a cliché to list The Handmaid’s Tale, but it’s been one of my favourite books since I studied it for my English Literature A-Level. It’s the one book I wish I could have written, I get lost in the intricacy and intelligence of the language every time.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is beautifully written, full of observations about life and the modern world that just take my breath away. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D Schmidt is the perfect example of a book aimed at younger readers that deals with some incredibly dark storylines using simple, understated language, which makes it all the more powerful and heart-breaking.
8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:
Sorry, got to be The Handmaid’s Tale again. The Crow Road by Iain Banks is another of my favourites, for his storytelling, the uniquely drawn characters and the relationships between them. I read it when I was very young and have returned to the book again and again over the last 20 years, taking something new from it each time. I’d also take Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, which is one of the few classics that I return to, along with Dracula, by Bram Stoker.
9. Any words of writing wisdom?
Believe in yourself. The more you write and the more you read, the better your work will become. But it will take years of practice to get really good, so don’t be disheartened when it doesn’t happen straight away. And when you’re ready to query your work, the main thing is to keep going. Rejections are your badge of honour, the more you get the more likely it becomes that someone will eventually say, Yes.
10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:
In a crumbling and desperate city, a young woman must risk everything to fight back against a violent regime, led by her obsessive stepfather, the man who destroyed her father and claimed her mother for himself.
Social media contacts: @tenpennydreams (Twitter and Instagram)
Unbound URL: https://unbound.com/books/the-disappeared/
Hopefully, some of you fine folk out there will be intrigued by Amy's book and will consider supporting it!